11/10/2010 06:14 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

A Grateful Salute to Our Veterans

On Veterans Day, Americans will take time out to pay tribute to our military heroes. Some of us New Yorkers will march in the annual parade up Fifth Avenue. Others will visit cemeteries to pray over our deceased loved-ones. With 25 million surviving veterans in the country -- including 14,000 in my Upper Manhattan Congressional District -- most of us will have someone to thank for their sacrifice.

Since the birth of this country, more than 40 million Americans have served in the military during wartime. Nearly 1 million have died in battle. And now in the Middle East, the roster of military heroes grows by the day. Two million young men and women have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and nearly 6,000 have already been killed.

Five of those casualties were my constituents: From Washington Heights -- Sgt. Jose E. Ulloa, Cpl. Juan M. Alcantara, Spec. Sergio A. Mercedes Saez. and Staff Sgt. Riayan A. Tejeda; and from East Harlem -- Spec. Jose L. Ruiz.

As many as 300,000 servicemen and women have returned home afflicted with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Many others are damaged by head injuries and lost limbs. Depression and suicides are wreaking havoc on their victims, spouses and children.

I am proud to have worked with my Democratic allies in this Congress and President Obama to enact landmark legislation to help wounded veterans and their families, to guarantee reliable funding for VA medical centers, and to strengthen health care services for 5 million vets. That is in addition to providing enhanced funding for veterans education, job training, and business opportunities.

Today I am launching on my website a Veterans Resource Guide to services available at the VA and other agencies. Please visit the site at and let me know of any services or programs that should be added to the list.

Veterans represent the 1 percent of families in this country with sons and daughters in harm's way in the military. They alone are putting their lives on the line to allow all of us to rest easy at home.

Each war leaves its own unique scars on its veterans. In today's conflicts, the wounds are often invisible. The next time you see a veteran or a soldier in uniform, offer a word of thanks or a salute. They've earned it. Listen to Congressman Rangel's special message on Veterans Day!